Archives and Special Collections

Additional Sources About Dr. Robert H. Goddard

Primary Resources

Original documentation about Dr. Robert Goddard and his research includes the many manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts that are found in the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Collection, which is located in the Archives and Special Collections area of the Robert H. Goddard Library, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts. Two articles written by him are "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes [PDF]," in Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, vol. 71, no. 2 (1919) and "Liquid-Propellant Rocket Development," ibid., vol. 95, no. 3 (1936). Both of these were reprinted in 1946 in his posthumously published book Rockets. In the February 26, 1921 issue of Scientific American is an essay that Goddard wrote in response to the critical comments that were written about "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes." Dr. Goddard also wrote many other articles and papers. In 1948, Esther C. Goddard and G. Edward Pendray edited Rocket Development, which is a selection of Dr. Goddard's writings about some of his many experiments. A more extensive collection of his writings can be found in the three volume set The Papers of Robert H. Goddard, which was also edited by Esther C. Goddard and G. Edward Pendray, in 1970; this set is held by over 400 libraries across the United States. Many primary and secondary sources of information about Dr. Goddard are available in the archives' digital collection of materials.

Secondary Resources

Secondary literature about Dr. Goddard includes the biography Rocket Man, which was written by David Clary in 2003. The other biography about Goddard that was written for adults is Milton Lehman's This High Man, which was published in 1963 and republished in 1988 under the title Robert H. Goddard: Pioneer of Space Research. There is a 1/20 scale drawing of Goddard's rocket of March 16, 1926 in Rockets of the World, 2nd ed., which was written by Peter Alway, in 1995. There are scale drawings of this and other Goddard rockets in Peter Alway's 1996 book Retro Rockets. In its March 29, 1999 issue (vol. 153, no. 12), Time magazine had articles about the people who it considered to have the 100 greatest minds of the twentieth century. Dr. Goddard's article was titled "Robert Goddard." Other articles about Goddard include "Reaching Toward Space," Smithsonian, vol. 31, no. 11 (February 2001); "The Rocket Man," Invention and Technology, vol. 12 (Summer 1996); "The Rocket Experiments of Robert H. Goddard, 1911 to 1930," The Physics Teacher, vol. 29 (November 1991); "Goddard: Father of Space Flight," Aerospace, vol. 20, no. 3 (Summer, 1982); and "The Ordeal of Robert Hutchings Goddard: 'God Pity a One-Dream Man,'" American Heritage, vol. 31, no. 4 (June/July 1980). A few older articles include "50th Anniversary of Step Toward Space," Smithsonian Magazine, vol. 6, no. 12 (March 1976); "Father of the Rocket," Boys' Life, vol. 52 (June 1962); and "The Strange Story of Dr. Goddard," Reader's Digest, vol. 67, no. 403 (November 1955). There have been numerous books written for younger readers about Dr. Goddard. Among these are Robert Hutchings Goddard by Suzanne Coil in 1992, Robert H. Goddard by Karin Clafford Farley in 1991, The Boy Who Dreamed of Rockets by Robert M. Quackenbush in 1979, Rocket Pioneer by Charles Coombs in 1965, and Robert Goddard, Space Pioneer by Anne Dewey in 1962. In addition, Rocket! by Richard Maurer is a history of the development of the rocket and so is mostly about Dr. Goddard's work; it discusses the science behind rockets in a way that children from grades four through nine can understand and find interesting.

What is a primary source versus a secondary source?

A primary source gives firsthand information about the topic being studied. Whether an item is a primary or secondary source cannot be determined without first knowing the topic and the questions that are to be answered; the same item may be a primary source for one line of research and a secondary source for a different one. A primary source can be published or unpublished. For example, when Robert Goddard wrote about his first rocket flight, it is a primary source about that rocket flight. This would be true whether it is from the original handwritten document or from a book printed well after Dr. Goddard's death that quotes what he had written. Anybody who took part in that flight could also write or tell an account that would be a primary source about that flight. The rocket itself or photos of it could also be primary sources for a study of that flight. However, something written by somebody who did not take part in or witness that first flight could only be a secondary source, except for any sections that quote somebody who had been at the flight. An example of this is that, while most of what is included on these web pages about Dr. Goddard are secondary sources, the page that has a digitized copy of Dr. Goddard's diary about his first rocket flight is a primary source, as is the transcript that is provided of what is written in the diary.